REL S/510 Subwoofer Review & Comments

Idle Bull

Active Member
Wow, that 6 array stack will set you back a bit :)
I still use my old REL Strata III, the only issue I've had is the illuminated switch has stopped working! They're built to last, I must have had it nearly 20 years!
As most of my listening/viewing is late night (so quiet) when rest of familly are in bed, I keep thinking of buing something smaller, but not something this expensive :)
 

hestepare

Member
I'm always a bit confused why RELs don't go deeper. It's obviously a design choice as other subs with similar dimensions and power can do it. What do they focus on in their design process? What makes REL worth it when other subs can do 'more'?
 

Cameron583

Member
I'm always a bit confused why RELs don't go deeper. It's obviously a design choice as other subs with similar dimensions and power can do it. What do they focus on in their design process? What makes REL worth it when other subs can do 'more'?
They don’t really make them for home theatre, but for music. All demos I’ve seen of theirs have been music demos, or if it is a film, showing how the high level input is important. They’re not fussed about how “low” it goes.
 

kbfern

Distinguished Member
Wow what a price, it does not make it better that they were tested as a pair but priced individually. :eek:

Yes they look beautiful there is no doubt about that and yes they perform well but no better than subs costing much much less. Steve alludes to this by pointing out the BK P12-300SB-PR which at £450 is £1450 lower or £2900 as a pair.

I guess REL are going for the style over substance approach like B&W did with their bowling ball designs, yes they can sound good but you can get an awful lot more performance for much less money.

The subwoofer market is very crowded these days and I think REL will only likely win sales from folks who have deep pockets and are design conscious, others will look to the many more options available.
 
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Jules

Distinguished Member
I have to say I used to own an a massive SVS subwoofwer, and then a compact KEF R sub, but for the last few years have been rocking 2 x Rel T7i subs.

The Rels are far better made and sound very fast and musical... Which I think is preferable to anything else.

These subs are a lot more expensive than my T7i's were, so it's a harder sell..But Rel are a bit like the Miele (white goods) of subwoofwers... You get a quality, reliable product.
 

Sky watsher

Active Member
Thanks @Steve Withers for the review.

Is it possible to (simultaneously) connect the high level and the low level signals and use them for movie purpose ?
One could use the front stage as "Large" in receiver setup, which can benefit from the high level input to make the subs an extension of the speakers, but also still throwing the LFE channel.
I read in few places that REL do offer this possibility.

Thanks in Advance.
 

steve sph

Well-known Member
It's very pretty and it's hard to judge anything you've not heard, but when you think you could get four BK's for the price of one of these it's difficult to understand the 8 for value.
 

keithwiggins

Well-known Member
It's very pretty and it's hard to judge anything you've not heard, but when you think you could get four BK's for the price of one of these it's difficult to understand the 8 for value.
the value for money element is a real issue here and as a result this should be reflected in the scores somehow, by all means state it sounds great and score that appropriately but then score its vfm the overall score then becomes more meaningful.
 

The Shaved Ewok

Novice Member
Thanks @Steve Withers for the review.

Is it possible to (simultaneously) connect the high level and the low level signals and use them for movie purpose ?
One could use the front stage as "Large" in receiver setup, which can benefit from the high level input to make the subs an extension of the speakers, but also still throwing the LFE channel.
I read in few places that REL do offer this possibility.

Thanks in Advance.
I have the S510 and have it setup with both. You have to run Adussey with just the .1 plugged in then add the HL input and dial it in on the sub. Sounds very good once setup
 

Coulson

Distinguished Member
The RELs are always perplexing to me. My 300 quid SB300 has a 12" driver, no passive radiator and can go below 20hz.

The RELs are quick, so is the BK. Home Cinema Choice said: "The speed of this woofer is startling – it’s like a fast car with a big engine and yet terrifying brakes."

But the REL are musical, so is the BK. Ed Selly's review states " The rapid drum work and impressive kick drum impact of the album is relayed with assurance and verve by the BK. Switching to the giant electronic rumbles of Boards of Canada's Music has the right to children saw the P12-300SB no less composed and assured."

So I know as soon as a REL is reviewed you get a bunch of BK owners saying this stuff. But there is a reason for that. This isn't a my sub is better than yours, I would love a beautiful REL sub at home. But even if I had the cash lying around I would look somewhere else because the value proposition is so poor.

..But Rel are a bit like the Miele (white goods) of subwoofwers... You get a quality, reliable product.
...and the BKs are like Bosch white goods used to be (they're rubbish now). A great quality product, usually as reliable as Miele but for a fraction of the cost. ;)
 
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SonOfSJ

Well-known Member
May I offer as an alternative, at almost exactly the same price and sticking with sealed subwoofers, the £1,799 SVS SB-4000, which was reviewed by Mr Withers's AVForums and Home Cinema Choice magazine colleague Mr Ed Selley almost two years ago here.
 

Coulson

Distinguished Member
May I offer as an alternative, at almost exactly the same price and sticking with sealed subwoofers, the £1,799 SVS SB-4000, which was reviewed by Mr Withers's AVForums and Home Cinema Choice magazine colleague Mr Ed Selley almost two years ago here.
I love this quote from that review:
Compared to the GoldenEar SuperSub XXL, which can be persuaded into great hulking slabs of unnecessary low-end if you ask it nicely, the SVS 
stays absolutely controlled. I’d almost like there to be a ‘Ludicrous’ setting in the SVS Bluetooth app (to join the Music and Movie presets), which I could select when I wanted to behave like a five-year-old.
 

SonOfSJ

Well-known Member
@Coulson Yes, I remember Mr Selley mentioning that he wanted a "hooligan mode" for the SVS SB-4000 subwoofer when discussing it on one of the weekly AVForums podcasts, which were audio only in those days!
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
I'm always a bit confused why RELs don't go deeper. It's obviously a design choice as other subs with similar dimensions and power can do it. What do they focus on in their design process? What makes REL worth it when other subs can do 'more'?
These are mainly aimed for hifi systems/light lounge cinema and especially for persons who are design conscious as @kbfern mentioned. This should be quite easy to "sell" for naggy wife, small size, shiny furniture like looks with the handle and all. :) I bet the price isn`t issue for these folks.

Year or two back when the HT range came i sended message to REL in a little provoke way asking about why they have gone the route they did with the design vs. competitors and why they are bit behind on the extension still as most people will put big emphasis on the FR specs. I knew writing this way could be the only way to get answer, and i did from the lead designer. :) I think this same talk about the poor extension is talked in many REL reviews, so hopefully this reply helps to open up their thoughts on the design principles. Hats off for the designer writing such detailed reply.


Your query is a good one, but you may not like the answer: DSP-based woofer designs can generate impressive specs. DSP can be used to flatten out curves and generate cool looking graphs and, as your question focuses on, deliver very good numerical LF extension results. But it comes down to what values each company is focusing on.

At REL, we're never willing to chase specs at the expense of audible performance. DSP too often, and maybe its simply the engineers that are using DSP chips, not DSP itself (although our experiences working with it suggests at least part of it is intrinsic to DSP itself) don't produce the fluidity and natural tracking of dynamics that a good analog circuit can. There's an aliveness to what the HT delivers that none of the competitors listed deliver. Whenever you're using DSP to, for example, deliver flatter, lower extension specs, something is being robbed to produce that figure.

I can tell you that, having listened extensively to at least one of the competitors you reference, our ability to seamlessly transition up through middle and upper bass regions--areas critical for the baritone male spoken word in dialogue--is streets ahead of the competition. And why is this important? Gosh as a theatre maven and someone who has worked a board in transfer studios aren't I most concerned about the big explosions that shake the room? Of course those matter and, if you actually spent any time listening to a well set-up HT/1205 for instance, you would know that both it and its quality competition handle these aspects almost identically. Both play enormously loud, frankly louder than most normal folks can handle in the average living or drawing room. Both go down deep and rattle things about.

But switching back to the other 1:48 minutes of the movie wherein actual human beings, or droids, or fictitious creatures are interacting with the spoken word reveals a fascinating difference. The Serie HT actually possess many of the aural cues that have made so many customers happy with their T/i and S progenitors-those "shiny boxes" you were on about ; >). Both T/i and HT have an ability to blend and meld almost seamlessly with the main speakers (or center and surrounds in a REL3D set-up, which is modelled on Dolby's own requirements that ALL speakers in a proper theatre be capable of full range sound deliver of lower 20's-20khz)).

In doing so (blending with and becoming one with the speakers being supported by a REL), all kinds of important aural cues are revealed that set physical context for a scene, allow echoes to die away in concert with the visual data your eyes are seeing on screen. In other words, to provide all the thousands of elements of decoding spoken word, space and context within a scene that delivers scale cues. This ability forms the very basis of great theatre sound and helps REL theatre owners to more fully immerse themselves in the full, rich tapestry of sound reproduction that is the very basis for deep enjoyment of great theatre. And please remember this, the big explosions and effects so many of us enjoy in a big scene cannot possibly take their proper place without the small, quiet set-up scenes that ALWAYS preface a big effects-laden scene (it HAS to, otherwise the whole damned movie is just loud and nothing stands out) and almost always culminates in a quiet, small dialogue rich scene for the same reason.

Bottom line? We know a great deal about the art of movie making and our goal is to deliver products that bring out ALL aspects of the movie-making art. Frankly, I'm more than willing to sacrifice a meaningless spec by a couple of Hertz to achieve this result. I hope this better helps you understand our goals and why we occasionally are willing to not follow the herd since they are almost never trying to get to the same place as are we.
 

Coulson

Distinguished Member
These are mainly aimed for hifi systems/light lounge cinema and especially for persons who are design conscious as @kbfern mentioned. This should be quite easy to "sell" for naggy wife, small size, shiny furniture like looks with the handle and all. :) I bet the price isn`t issue for these folks.

Year or two back when the HT range came i sended message to REL in a little provoke way asking about why they have gone the route they did with the design vs. competitors and why they are bit behind on the extension still as most people will put big emphasis on the FR specs. I knew writing this way could be the only way to get answer, and i did from the lead designer. :) I think this same talk about the poor extension is talked in many REL reviews, so hopefully this reply helps to open up their thoughts on the design principles. Hats off for the designer writing such detailed reply.
Interesting. BK doesn't use DSP does it?
 

Gasp3621

Distinguished Member
Interesting. BK doesn't use DSP does it?
Nope! SVS, Arendal, PSA and many other brands use it these days.. Tom V from PSA (SVS founder) said:

It’s been so long since we worked with an analog amp. Not since 2007. Once you understand the capabilities of the new DSP stuff, it’s hard to go back to an analog amp. What may have taken you days or weeks to tweak with different resistors in the analog domain now takes almost no time with DSP.
 

Coulson

Distinguished Member
Doesn't surprise me since BK used to build their subs. So pretty much any argument for RELs value proposition, including the DSP argument from the head designer doesn't apply to BK.
 

Liammonty123

Well-known Member
These are mainly aimed for hifi systems/light lounge cinema and especially for persons who are design conscious as @kbfern mentioned. This should be quite easy to "sell" for naggy wife, small size, shiny furniture like looks with the handle and all. :) I bet the price isn`t issue for these folks.

Year or two back when the HT range came i sended message to REL in a little provoke way asking about why they have gone the route they did with the design vs. competitors and why they are bit behind on the extension still as most people will put big emphasis on the FR specs. I knew writing this way could be the only way to get answer, and i did from the lead designer. :) I think this same talk about the poor extension is talked in many REL reviews, so hopefully this reply helps to open up their thoughts on the design principles. Hats off for the designer writing such detailed reply.
It’s interesting, because any half decent system I have heard has had some sort of DSP EQ applied to the LFE channel anyway.
 

Conrad.

Moderator
To say that it handles the explosions with the same capability as the SVS is false, isn't it?

I heard the grand reference series at a dealer open day last September. It didn't sound any more "alive" than the DSP subs I've heard.
 

Coulson

Distinguished Member
It’s interesting, because any half decent system I have heard has had some sort of DSP EQ applied to the LFE channel anyway.
I suppose I shouldn't be too smug because I intend to add DSP processing to my LFE channel lol But that's due to the Amstrad friendly Atmouse mixes of Disney etc rather than the sub.
To say that it handles the explosions with the same capability as the SVS is false, isn't it?

I heard the grand reference series at a dealer open day last September. It didn't sound any more "alive" than the DSP subs I've heard.
To be fair I think RELs main argument is that it can handle explosions as well as DSP subs but with advantages on other areas.
 
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Liammonty123

Well-known Member
I suppose I shouldn't be too smug because I intend to add DSP processing to my LFE channel lol But that's due to the Amstrad friendly Atmouse mixes rather than the sub.
I’m just not sure he answered your question about why they don’t extend lower, especially
for the ££££ price tag. He said they didn’t use dsp to do lift the low end (didn’t really explain the reason) but then went off on a tangent about integration with mains?
 

Liammonty123

Well-known Member
Edit: Ignore my previous posts, I may have missed the passive radiator bit (doh!), depending on the tune of the radiator (likely around 28hz) the driver will unload similarly to a ported sub below this frequency, so dsp should actually be used to add a HPF and protect the driver, instead of trying to impossibly extend the response!
 

Conrad.

Moderator
Even so. To say that it goes down as deep as it's competitors isn't true. It's -6dB point is 22Hz which puts the -3dB point at 27Hz with a shallow slope. The comparable sub he references (probably an SVS SB2000) has a -3dB point at 17Hz.

Whether you chase extension or not, 27Hz isn't room shaking movie sub territory, which he claims it to be.

If that's not your target audience then fine, it's more than capable for all but the most niche pipe organ music or dubstep (or some combination), but don't say it does something it doesn't.

edited to correct my maths.
 
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hestepare

Member
If – and that should maybe be a bolded and italicised if – the -6 dB is anechoic, what would reasonably be the in-room response?
 

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